Recap: Dream, 98 Degrees, O-Town And Ryan Cabrera Cast A Spell On Baltimore’s Inner Harbor


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Many of you reading this post may remember a pinnacle period in life…the days of 1999 and the corresponding years. This time was a special time for me because I was nearing the end to my high school career, gas was extremely cheap, we were on the horizon of a new century AND millennium (who could forget the whole Y2K debacle?) and music was great! The music was so damn good that MTV curated it’s own countdown show which not only celebrated the biggest music videos at the time, but also was the launching pad for up and coming budding artist as well.

A few of those TRL artist were boy band 98 Degrees, Dream, O-Town, and Ryan Cabrera, all of who are headlining the appropriately titled MY2K Tour, which is certainly a nod to that whole great era in pop music.

There are many throwback concerts and tours going around now because everyone is SO in love with nostalgia that it’s not even funny, but the show that I witnessed at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, MD on August 18th was not your typical one. First off it was a show that featured a few acts who just disappeared off of the face of the musical world…or so you thought. You had 98 Degrees, a group which was extremely prevalent during the early 00’s but in recent years hadn’t recorded any music together, much less performed together and then the female quartet Dream, who burst out onto the music scene with their smash hit ‘He Loves You Not’ while being signed to Bad Boy Records.

Walking into the venue was an IMMEDIATE living flashback to high school, because everyone in attendance was someone in my age group that came dressed exactly like they were circa 1999/2000, which made for a whimsical feeling indeed. Crop tops, Spice Girls boots, multi-colored hair extensions…yea, all of that was on display, but this time they weren’t there as a teenie booper who was happy to hangout with their friends without their parents, they came as mothers on a girls night out, looking to escape their children for the night.

Extreme attention was paid to the throwback feel of the show. During intermission between acts, there were music videos that were in heavy rotation on MTV being played on the large LCD on the stage, in a TRL spoof. Britney, *NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, Backstreet Boys, Xtina, yep, they were all there in their most memorable forms via video. Before any artist even hit the stage, this was the first selling point of the show for me. I grew up during that time, and a lot of those songs were my jams back in the day, so to be able to watch them on a large screen on stage with what appeared to be MTV branding, took me back to some of the pop shows that I saw during the 90’s.

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Dream would be the first act to hit the stage. No one had really heard from this girl group since their second album ‘Reality’ had dropped in the middle 2000’s, and most people forgot about them, while some didn’t even remember them at all. I certainly remember these ladies and the moment that they hit the scene, everyone was a little shocked that they were signed to Bad Boy Records, but Puff Daddy knows talent, and that’s on thing that these girls have, is talent. Honestly, these were one of the main reasons I wanted to see the show, as I never had the opportunity to see a live show from them during their prime.

At the start of their show, the house lights went down, smoke-filled the stage and the words DREAM illuminated the video wall, and the next thing you know, four young ladies stood atop the stage. Holly, Melissa, Diana, and Ashley stood at their rightful place in this show. Yes ladies and gentleman, it was the original four members of the group.

From the last time that we had a glimpse of the girls, they had CERTAINLY grown up. These were no longer 16/17 year old little girls, their maturity showed out in their stage costumes, along with their voices. Leotards are the ‘in thing’ in regards to female performers these days (thanks Beyonce), but we can’t complain, because the girls of Dream looked good in them.

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During the course of their show, they sang many of the songs from their first album ‘It Was All A Dream‘ and their second album, with some songs that I wasn’t too familiar with, but others I definitely remember bobbing my head to back in the day. The vocals were still there, because that’s one thing that they were known for, strong singing. You couldn’t have been a major force in music back in the 2000’s unless you moved your body, and choreography seemed to help round out their overall stage presence.

Not to only make this a TOTAL throwback moment for them, at one point in the show, the ladies announced that they were back in the studio working on their third album, and actually had a new song to deliver for the audience. The standout moments from their showing was when they performed ‘This Is Me’ along with their debut single ‘He Loves You Not‘, which got all of the ladies out of their seats as they sang loud and snapped their necks as a nod to the music video.

Next up was O-Town, who was made famous by the ORIGINAL Making The Band, before Diddy took over the show. What’s interesting about the guys are that they have been touring over the past couple of years, so they’ve garnered fans along their travels, than just the ones that have followed their careers from the beginning.

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Their show got kicked off with their first single, ‘Liquid Dreams‘, which at the time of its release, we didn’t think TOO much into the meaning behind the title, but as adults, it’s something that we would give a slight side-eye at. They came with all of the boy band banter, shared lyrics, full on choreography, winks and biting of the lips for the girls the audience to go crazy over. It’s evident that they have been moving as a consistent unit over the years, as their show was polished and ran fluid. Not one to be ousted by Dreams with new music, they too came with a couple of newer tracks of their own.

 

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The one person on this whole tour who I wasn’t familiar with at all was Ryan Cabrera, and he was the one who I didn’t feel fit this bill. Granted he seems like a talented individual, this was a POP show in its purest form, and his lane of music was anything but that. He came in tow with no glitz, glam, audio track or dance moves, it was just him and his guitar, which changed the pace of the show, and slowed it down a bit.

His set was about 30 minutes long and consisted of his past songs, some cover material, and one new song. The new song was in fact so new, that he hadn’t released it yet, and was scheduled to drop it that midnight. People cheered him on, but you could clearly tell they were waiting for 98 Degrees.

 

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To seal the deal of the night, 98 Degrees had now entered the building folks. Clad in army fatigue pants and military style vest, we had absolutely been transported back to the 2000’s. Just to jog your memory really quick, the group is fronted by Nick and Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre, and Jeff Timmons. From the moment they stepped on the stage, they showed you that they weren’t there to disappoint, and were going to give you the time of your life, even if only for an hour and some change.

Kicking the show into gear with ‘Heat It Up‘, they steamrolled through a pile of their songs, many that I had forgotten were even theirs. It was slightly obvious that they hadn’t performed as a group in a while since some of the choreography was a little lacking in places, but that didn’t totally take away from the show, and nor did the women in the crowd care. Hearing the amounts of loud screams and “I Love You Nick!” that roared through the stands took me waaaay back, but that’s what an artist looks for when their on stage to get them charged up.

My favorite part of the show was THEIR TRL medley. They paid homage to almost every major artist who crushed the industry, but were also their contemporaries. A few of the songs they performed were Spice Girls ‘Wannabe‘, Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’,  Montel Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It‘ and a few other hits, but the ones that shocked me the most were when they covered songs from both Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. I was surprised that they would even touch ‘I Want It That Way‘ and ‘Bye Bye Bye‘, mainly because of the stiff competition that both of the mentioned groups provided for the quartet, but I guess you can’t dwell on the past forever and have to grow up.

At one point in the show, they brought a lucky female audience member on stage to sing their hit ‘I Do‘, who coincidentally was getting married the next day. I can almost guarantee that her 16 year old inner self had died inside while being serenaded. Before you knew it, the show was coming to a close with the Latin infused song ‘Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)‘.

The MY2K show is one that I suggest you see if you are a fan of good pop music and can appreciate bands and musicians who aren’t out now just making music that is only for the now, and won’t transcend time.

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